Archive for the ‘Citizen Journalism 101’Category

No, not a superinjunction but a Big competition

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New charity the Citizen Journalism Educational Trust (CJET), which is supported by The-Latest.Com, has launched with its Big Picture street photography competition.

This exciting event has won backing from Time Out magazine, Olympus, who have donated a prize worth almost £300. Guardian News & Media donated an iconic image, taken by a citizen photographer, of Ian Tomlinson, the innocent bystander killed by a police officer at the G20 protest of 2009.

The competition offers entrants from the UK and abroad the opportunity to win the brand new Olympus LS-20M pocket camcorder and the title of “CJET Street Photographer of the Year” by using their mobile phone to take a winning picture.

Judges are award-winning photographer Eamonn McCabe, former Picture Editor of The Guardian, renowned publisher Dr Margaret Busby, a CJET Trustee, Martin Shaw, chair of the Trustees, Allyce Hibbert, Picture Editor of Time Out and Brian Usher, Picture Editor of The-Latest.Com.

Martin Shaw said: “CJET recognises that ordinary citizens not only consume news but make it too. Think of the image of innocent bystander Ian Tomlinson who was unlawfully killed at the G20 protest, the 7/7 terrorist attack and Asian tsunami photographs that have come from camera phones. We are doing the Big Picture competition to celebrate this important new citizen journalism.”

CJET is a UK charity that inspires and encourages the personal development of disadvantaged young adults through journalism, writing, literacy, photography and video. It produces educational material that includes college standard online out-reach materials and tutorials for contributors interested in a career in journalism, photography or broadcasting.

It also aims to assist the public to find a better connection with the sometimes mystifying world of media, journalism and current affairs that is so influential in all our lives.

The competition runs from June 1 2011 to August 31 2011 and the winner notified on October 3 2011. Full details can be viewed here:http://www.the-latest.com/photographer-year-competition.

Please send the link to the competition page to all your contacts. We look forward to receiving your photos.

 

 

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Twitter hampering criminal investigations UK police warn

Messages on social networking sites are increasingly hampering major police investigations, a senior detective has warned.

The comment came from Detective Chief Inspector Jes Fry from Norfolk Police after Michael Tucker, 50, was jailed for 26 years at Norwich Crown Court for murdering his partner Rebecca Thorpe, 28, and hiding her body in a freezer.

Read the full story on British journalism trade journal Press Gazette.

 

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30

05 2011

Suggestions to Prepare for the Next Natural Disaster

Citizens have been busy reporting the horrific events in Japan in recent weeks.

As Ron Ross, co-founder of the National Association of Citizen Journalists, wrote in his blog recently, many of these reports can be found on CitizenTube, YouTube’s news and politics blog.

Ross also offered some tips so citizen journalists worldwide can prepare to cover similar news events, although it is hoped it won’t happen to you. You can read his blog at: http://ronrosstoday.com/?p=384.

Susan Cormier is the head coach in charge of training at the National Association of Citizen Journalists (http://nacj.us/) and co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (www.citizenjournalistnow.com).

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22

03 2011

A Suggestion for Citizen Journalism Website Operators

I’ve been wondering a lot recently about why it is so difficult for individuals to find a way to make citizen journalism websites profitable.

There is an obvious answer – at least from my perspective as a former newspaper editor and reporter.

Most of those who have a desire to start or run a citizen journalism website have a journalism background. Journalists aren’t trained in sales. But they are trained to be unbiased in their reporting.

So, how can you be unbiased in your reporting when you are writing a news article about one of the major advertisers on your website?

In the “professional” news business, there usually are two different departments – one that handles the news and one that handles the sales.

In a perfect world, individuals in these two departments should not come into contact with one another. So the news writer never takes into account how much advertising one business buys. And the advertising salesman has no idea if a business is in the news.

But with a citizen journalism website, often one person handles both the writing and sales. And that person usually has a news background. It’s not an easy transition to wear both hats – reporting and writing, and sales.

My solution is as old as the advertising department in most newspaper offices around the world: Commission sales. Find someone equally passionate about your cause and hire them on a commission basis.

Surely in these days of record unemployment, someone will step up to the plate to serve as the advertising department so the original owner/operator of the website can focus on reporting and writing the news, sports and features in his/her community.

If you’d like to read about someone who actually did marketing and is making money from his website, read the recent blog written by Ron Ross, co-founder of the National Association of Citizen Journalists, at http://ronrosstoday.com/?p=374.

Susan Cormier is the head coach in charge of training at the National Association of Citizen Journalists (http://nacj.us/) and co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (http://www.citizenjournalistnow.com/).

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03

03 2011

Social media primary tool for young journalists

In a recent IREX report, journalist Namo Abdulla recounts that one of the most important resources a journalist can use is social media.This is important in parts of the world where censorship and cultural norms limit the public’s ability to write, release and read information.

Now that people are riding the tidal wave of Egyptian-style protests, social media is particularly important.

Students at universities in the Middle East are demanding more education in the area of social media, which lends itself to making all students citizen journalists…especially those studying journalism.

Abdulla writes: “Kurdish newspapers and magazines have a tendency to self-censor for cultural and political reasons. Now Facebook and blogs are the publisher of photos, poems and other items that would not be published in the traditional media.”

Read the full report here.

 

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28

02 2011

Deceitful Practices set Bad Example for Citizen Journalists

An online newspaper editor is setting a horrible example for citizen journalists who want to cover news in their communities.

Ian Murphy, editor of the reportedly left-leaning Buffalo Beast website based in Buffalo, N.Y., failed to identify himself correctly before interviewing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker about the debate surrounding public-employee unions that led Democratic state senators to leave the state to stop a vote.

According to an Associated Press report in The Denver Post on Thursday, Feb. 24,  Walker thought he was talking to a conservative billionaire named David Koch, not the editor of an online newspaper.

In the interview, Walker reportedly described several ways to pressure Democrats to return to the state Capitol and said his supporters had considered planting people in the protest crowds to stir up trouble.

After he learned the interviewer was not who he thought, Walker was quoted as saying: “The things I said are the things I’ve said publicly all the time.”

So Murphy didn’t really get any fantastic scoop from his unethical conduct, which he told the AP he did to show how candid Walker would speak to a conservative while refusing to return calls from Democrats.

This incident reminds me why I am so passionate in my role as a trainer for the National Association of Citizen Journalists. I don’t want citizen journalists to learn how to be journalists from folks like Murphy. Deception is not the way to do journalism.

So please, if you are a practicing or aspiring citizen journalist, identify yourself correctly before interviewing folks. Honesty is the only way to be ethical and respected. And that’s the only way to be a journalist – professional or citizen.

Susan Cormier is the head coach in charge of training at the National Association of Citizen Journalists (http://nacj.us/) and co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (http://www.citizenjournalistnow.com/).

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25

02 2011

How to get stories as a citizen journalist

Research for news or feature stories is very different to academic study. Time limits or  ’deadlines’ are usually more critical and the depth of information required is much less. In journalism, research will be for background information and for the purposes of finding people you can interview for expert comment or analysis. These are called  ’sources’. In news journalism, a single source is often used in an article but feature writers use several sources.

Most organisations have designated employees who deal with media enquiries. They are usually called a press officer and work in the press office. But they may be a marketing person or even staff at a public relations company. The press office will supply you with news releases, brochures and leaflets, known as  ’hand-out’ material. Press officers are usually helpful, all too aware that today’s journalism student or writing enthusiast may be tomorrow’s Fleet Street staffer. They will answer your questions and may assist you to arrange an interview with a source which, in television, is called unflatteringly a  ’talking head’. Adding your contact details to a press officer’s mailing list can result in invitations to potentially valuable sources of stories like product launches and news conferences. Potential interviewees can be found using publications including:

The Directory of British Associations, available in most reference libraries.

The Hollis Press and Public Relations Annual

The Writers and Artists Yearbook

The Guardian Media Guide which lists a range of media contacts and the names, telephone numbers and websites for local councils, government departments, hospitals, police services, courts, prisons, museums, theatres and embassies.

A good reference library will have a variety of specialist directories as well CD-ROMS containing back issues of newspapers and journals. It is worthwhile joining more than one library. London has a number of these, for instance Westminster Reference Library, the British Library and the Royal Institute for International Affairs, which researchers can use by prior appointment.

The internet is now an easy and standard source for research. There are a number of major search engines on the net and a few like Ask Jeeves at askjeeves.co.uk and Answers.com are particularly user-friendly because you can enter a question. All the major newspapers have searchable archives, for example guardian.co.uk. Though the internet is a great resource, for accuracy, be careful to use authoritative sites and double check facts when not doing this. For example, though the online encyclopaedic resource wikipedia.org is a boon, remember that it is written by volunteers who are not necessarily experts (anybody who wants to contribute can) and therefore information on it needs to be cross-referenced with other sources.

It is not uncommon for people who are new to journalism to spend an inordinate amount of effort on research and then leave little time for the writing of an article. The important consideration in the first stage of constructing your piece is the topicality of the story, its relevance to a target audience and interesting angle. This will provide the necessary focus for your research, saving precious time and labour. The UK’s citizen journalism website The-Latest.com is rich with resources for would-be journalists.

The following should give you some story ideas.

Updates

What was really behind President George W. Bush’s ‘war on terror’, in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere and why did Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and other leaders support it?

What’ was the true casualty total after a ‘terrorist bombing’? Who was really behind these earth-shattering events?

What’s the latest on official probes like the investigations into the controversial death of Princess Diana?

What’s happening in a court case, crime or other investigation you’re interested in, but suddenly the news media stops reporting or doesn’t cover at all?

You can submit Freedom of Information Act inquiries to public bodies for you and get important questions answered. See: http://www.the-latest.com/freedom-of-information-advice

Travel and Health

In today’s uncertain world, to what places is it safe to travel? And, with the advent of new pandemics like bird flu, what’s the latest health advice? Tell us about your transport experiences or treatment at the hands of the health service or other official bodies. Be a whistle-blower on information being kept secret by the powers-that-be when the public have the right to know.

Where are they now?

Tell is what’s happened to a favourite soap star no longer in the show? A politician, pop star, sports personality, actor or model – where are they now?

New Products

Write a sneak preview of the latest products like mobile phones, electrical and other goods as a consumer.

Copyright  © 2008 The-Latest.com

Republished with permission.



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Who owns a story?

A blogger in Egypt recently wrote: “Al Jazeera owned Tunisia. Now, they own Egypt too.”

What does it mean to own a story? And in a place where journalists are being shoved out of the picture (or the country) does ownership fall into the hands of the citizens? When a journalist includes a byline they take some ownership of a story. When a newspaper or website publishes something, they also take ownership of the story.

As a journalist, every story becomes your own. After some time, this story becomes shared; the person interviewed owns it, the writer owns it, the editor owns it, the news agency owns it, and then the viewers own it…

Ownership in Egypt is changing now. If Al Jazeera really does “own” this story, then it is not strictly theirs. Last night, as Internet lines were opened to the public once again, Al Jazeera tweeted: “(We) urge people who have any images or video from the protests to submit it to us via: http://yourmedia.aljazeera.net

The Human Rights Watch distributed an article about why Egypt reversed the blackout. They write that the government is now “scared of its own people.” These are the people who are now in control.

Ownership is now in the hands of average people, involved in the protests. Right now, it is estimated that more than 1.2 million people are crammed into Tahir Square. And if even a small percentage of those people submitted a photo or video, then ownership would be shared.

Perhaps that’s how is should always be. But of course, that is still up for the people to decide.

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No Internet, no news?

The riots in in Egypt have led to the government shutting down all Internet systems, and blocking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. So what of the citizen journalists? Well, they are finding a way. Despite SMS disruptions, thousands of people have been sending photos of the dead bodies, messages that scream: “Yes, this is a bloody war.” Many tourists on vacation in Cairo, and bloggers from around the world are stepping into the battle zone and proclaiming that they will get information out, regardless of the bullets being shot at them.

Here are links to some of the (VERY GRAPHIC) images that Egyptian citizens journalists are sending out: http://yfrog.com/h2k7satj http://yfrog.com/h71e4mmj http://yfrog.com/h3b3uyoj

Gregg Carlstrom (@glcarlstrom) is a blogger in Egypt and he recently tweeted: “This is how you know the Egyptian government is worried: it just shut off tourist access to the Pyramids. #Egypt

To make matters even more difficult for citizen journalists of the world, the word “Egypt” is now blocked in China. Nobody can search Egypt, or read about the riots. Perhaps this is the the Chinese government saying, “Don’t get any ideas, folks.” And still, the Chinese are attempting to use various microblogging systems to see more.

No, despite Internet interruptions, news is getting out, and it is making the Egyptian rulers look like foolish beasts.

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If Only I had my own Copy Editor . . .

Most citizen journalists don’t have the luxury of asking a skilled editor to proof their articles before they submit them.

In fact, citizen journalists often find themselves in the difficult situation of writing and then editing their own copy. This can be the most difficult editing that exists because it is very hard to catch your own errors. You know what you want the article to say, so you overlook misspelled or misused words, typos and incorrect grammar.

Believe me, I know. I’ve had my share of self-editing struggles.

So before submitting your articles, I highly recommend asking someone to review them for any possible errors. If you have a friend who can look over your work, by all means do it.

Another suggestion is to read your story at least three times. The first edit should focus on whether the story makes sense. During the second reading, pay special attention to spelling and grammar. On the third time through, you might want to see if there are any unanswered questions or negative words that could get you into trouble.

If time allows, give some distance between your readings, like an hour or two. That gives you a chance to walk away, think about something else and then come back more refreshed to look at your writing and catch possible errors.

These editing suggestions are the type of information included in the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” and the training offered by the National Association of Citizen Journalists. For more information or to order your e-copy of the handbook, visit http://www.citizenjournalistnow.com/. To learn more about the training offered by the NACJ or to sign up for your free subscription to the Citizen Journalist Post, visit http://www.nacj.us/.

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22

12 2010